Re: What would you do?

Subject: Re: What would you do?
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 10:26:26 +0900

Hi Kevin -

I strongly recommend you look at AuthorIT.

It has the same benefits as an XML-based publishing system such as DITA.
The difference is that it's been around for a few years and is being
used successfully now by tech writing groups ranging from large
companies to lone writers. If you've been following the very long thread
"Giving up on XML" on techwr-l you'll know that, although many people
including me think XML and DITA have huge promise, almost no-one thinks
it's suitable right now for a small group with no previous XML experience.

AuthorIT is strong in some areas that apply to your situation:
- It can import Word files.
- It has a built-in content management system that makes it easy to
store and reuse chunks of information such as standard topics, graphics,
logos, notes, and so on. This means that you don't have multiple copies
of similar information that gradually gets out of sync.
- Formatting and lists are very solid. It's easy to apply styles
correctly and consistently and very hard to get yourself into trouble
with manual formatting, as you can so easily in Word.
- It can output to PDF, HTML, online help, Word and XML.
- It has very good tools for managing translation (e.g. identifying
which text has changed since a previous release so that only these
chunks need to be sent out for translation).

If you're interested in following this up, try the vendor's web site
( and the very helpful user self-help list at



Kevin said:
> I started this tech writing job last week. The company has several
> documents, all giant Word files. They want to move into an XML
> environment, so we can 1) maintain XML modules of information,
> and create printable user guides at will, 2) include some of these
> XML files as online help, clickable from the UI.
> Translation is also a they want to maintain multiple
> languages (English, French, German, Dutch, etc...).
> So, here I am...with a bunch of crappy and poorly-maintained Word
> files, and I need to create a state-of-the-art XML system. They
> keep talking about DITA...but I'm not convinced that the DITA
> format is the perfect way to go. Frankly, I'm not sure about much
> at the moment.


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output.

Now shipping: Help &amp; Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help &amp; Manual:

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